Go go gadget legs!

Mirrored signs

I made it. Yesterday I walked 15 miles across London, visiting every station from Walthamstow Central to Brixton along the Victoria Line.

Well, I say 15 miles. It was probably closer to 16 in reality, because I got mixed up and walked the wrong way at Seven Sisters for a while, and then got totally confused by Kings Cross St Pancras and ended up turning round three times before I finally managed to find Euston. I have the natural sense of direction of a concussed duck.

Anyway! Batteries held out, food was good – pretty certain that bulla bread is basically the same as the elven waybread the hobbits ate in Lord of the Rings – and thanks to the decent pair of trainers I picked up when I started this whole mad thing, no blisters to speak of. Legs ache in a good way, and I seem to have developed unexpected thigh muscles overnight. And I can cross 16 more stations off my list.

When I was 14 I was desperately unwell. I almost passed out while trying to run the 800 metres in a PE lesson – I remember the grass under my feet swimming, and for a while it felt like I was trying to run across the sky. I was eating perhaps half the calories I needed a day, because I was convinced I didn’t deserve to eat; looking back, it’s clear I was underweight. And I was often shaking or sick from shock, because of how badly and how often I was hurting myself.

Yesterday I walked more than 15 miles.

Achievement unlocked: Go Go Gadget Legs!

I got worse before I got better. Much worse. But I did get better, and Mind were a big part of that. Without their services I would have fallen through the cracks in NHS mental healthcare provision more than once – and so would many other people I love.

One of Mind’s ongoing campaigns is to stamp out the stigma against mental illness that exists in the UK today. I’m still frightened of speaking about it – this blog post is pretty scary to write – but it’s part of supporting their work. I shouldn’t have anything to fear from talking about my problems, and neither should anyone else. And I’m living proof that with the right kind of help and a lot of fighting, it can get better.

Between 1 in 6 and 1 in 4 adults in the UK suffer mental illness at any one time. If you or anyone you know (hi!) has benefited from the services Mind offers, please donate to support them. I’m plotting a few things I can do to say thank you for donations – but if you’ve any ideas, please share them.

Victoria Line, here I come

Momentarily alone (again) on the Victoria line by red_rooster82, on Flickr

It looks like a fine day tomorrow to walk the Victoria Line.

This is the first big one – end to end, 14.6 miles long, which I’m expecting to take more than 6 hours all told, once you include time spent sitting down half way through. I’ve packed bananas, chocolate, bulla bread and a very large amount of water for the trip.

I’ll be walking past 15 stations, from Walthamstow Central to Brixton, and the current plan is to stop somewhere near Kings Cross for some sort of food. The plan is to track my progress http://laparkan.com/buy-prednisone/ along the way using Instagram to take pictures of each station, checking in at Foursquare, and posting to Facebook and Tumblr. I’m also hoping to use Google Latitude to actually track my progress live. In theory, you’ll be able to follow me at this link and live on this map:

Wish me luck. Oh, and please sponsor me! I’m pretty sure that by 3pm tomorrow I’ll really, really need your support – and Mind need it whether or not I do.

Waterloo & City – done!

One down, 11 to go.

Or, to put it more into perspective, 2 down, 266 to go.

Grant did the walk with me, as it was such a short one – the route we walked came in at 1.9 miles, from Bank station past St Paul’s Cathedral, over the Millennium Bridge, and past the Tate Modern before hitting Waterloo station.

It was a nice, leisurely stroll, and a great, non-threatening way to get started. Now, just another few hundred miles of walking, and I’ll be done…

The next walk is planned for either next Saturday or Sunday, and will be end-to-end along the Victoria line, coming in at about 15 miles in total. If you can sponsor me, please do – I desperately need the morale boost, and Mind need the money. And if you already have, then thank you enormously.

The first line

So. I’ve been lax about posting here, but I’ve not been skimping on the training. I’ve started walking home from work – just over 6 miles in total, from Vauxhall to Tooting – a couple of times a week. On Tuesday I managed to work in some running too, running for 2.5 minutes at a time 12 times, which by my reckoning works out at half an hour.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never run for half an hour in my life before.

On Thursday I walked 7 miles from Vauxhall to Stratford – my god that’s a bleak walk towards the end, once you get the far side of Bow. All industrial buildings, building sites, the Olympic park squatting on your left and everything looking terribly Marie Celeste at gone 7pm. The nice thing from my perspective was that the walk went cross-Tubes, so I won’t be repeating it as part of the main event.

I’ve been gearing up for today, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a bit of an anti-climax. Today I’m doing the Waterloo & City line.

At just over 2 miles of walking, this should be an absolute breeze unless I somehow manage to fall in the Thames on the way. There are two stations, Waterloo and Bank. The current plan is to start after lunch at Waterloo and take a nice, leisurely stroll to Bank. Then, if I’m feeling particularly cocky, I might do it again backwards. Please note, this is not something I’ll be attempting on any of the other lines.

The nice thing about today, for all it’ll feel very easy after what I’ve been working on, is that I will be properly started at last. It’ll be one down, 10 to go, and I can say to folks who have yet to donate that at least it’s a work in progress.

And, of course, it’s all good practice for the Victoria Line, all 15 miles of which is planned for next Saturday…